The Form of a Servant
George H. Morrison
On one occasion our Lord announced, "I am among you as one who serveth." That was the summation of His ministry. The word for serveth which St. John gives us is a word of very large and liberal meaning. It includes services of every kind, however high or exalted they may be. But when St. Paul says of that same Lord that He took on Him the form of a servant, that is an entirely different word. It is the common term for slave or, as we might put it, for domestic servant. There was nothing of lofty ministry about it; it was colored with contemptuous suggestion. Paul was thinking of his home in Tarsus where, unregarded and unthanked, the slaves were busy in menial occupations. No one knew better than the great apostle that life in its last analysis is service. The Grecian statesman and the Roman general were the servants of commonwealth or empire. But what awed Paul when he thought of Christ was not that He was found in such a category. It was that He humbled Himself to the likeness of a slave.
There is a service which is highly honorable. It is compatible with great position. I have a postcard I once got from Mr. Gladstone,1 and it is signed "Your obedient servant." But the slave's service was of another order, quite apart from honorable ministries, and in that lay the wonder of the Lord. The slave legally had no possessions, and He had not where to lay His head. No freeman acknowledged a slave in public places, and from Him men hid, as it were, their faces. The slave was universally despised, and his master could maltreat him as he pleased. And He was despised of men and, being maltreated, opened not His mouth.
This aspect of the Lord's obedience constitutes the wonder of His childhood. It explains, as it illuminates, the strange silence of the gospel story. There are apocryphal gospels of the infancy that credit the little Boy with various miracles. He strikes a comrade who instantly falls dead; He ...
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